Can boys play with dolls and girls play with guns?
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario
By SHAMALA VELU
Children love toys and will light up in excitement when they receive one. Toys are not just entertaining tools kids enjoy; they also play an important role in developing their motor, social and language skills. As children play with toys, their curiosity is also enhanced.
However, what if your son reaches out to play with his sister's kitchen set or baby dolls? Would that be okay?
Are girls expected to play with teddy bears and doll houses because they are girls?
All parents certainly buy toys which are suitable for their kid's gender but there are some who believe that it is normal for little boys and girls to share each other's toys.
Two parents share their opinions on
what they think about gender-specific toys.
Fazlina Ahmad Fuad.
Unit trust consultant Fazlina Ahmad Fuad, is a mother of one girl, Fatin Syamimi, six, and two boys, Syabil Fikri, six, and Syamil Fikri, two:
"Currently they are into computer games and they usually play on their father's handphone and computer at home. I do limit the time they spend on the Internet and the types of games they play. The games downloaded are also checked. I don't restrict the boys from playing with their sister's toys but it is done with guidance, of course.
We have kitchen play sets which I bought for Fatin when she was four. The boys sometimes play with them, too. Syabil used to play the kitchen set for hours and seemed fascinated by them when he was younger. Now, he and Syamil sometimes play 'restaurant' with the kitchen sets.
I don't find anything wrong with that. In fact, it actually develops their observation when we dine out. We also once bought a remote control car for Fatin when she was younger. Kids have a very wild imagination and we, as parents, should just let them explore. You never know, maybe our sons will be the next renowned chefs!
I think most of us just want to conform to society's expectations. By labelling toys only for girls, or for boys, we tend to limit their potential to explore and learn new things. At this young age, children are not prejudiced and will play with toys that they like. However, as parents, we should join them during playtime to guide them.
I do let Fatin play with cars and guns with her brothers. I have no problems with her choice of toys. What I would restrict is the playtime hours.
I let my boys play house with their sister with her Barbie dolls. But in their house version, they include action figures like Spiderman and Ultraman. From my own observation, my boys are not particularly interested in who's who, but they have an interest in creating the storyline for their play.
My children enjoy playing house and playing with the remote control cars. I just let them be children and allow them to play with anything they want.
There are no restrictions as they learn a lot from playing together. However, I do not encourage my boys to play with girl's toys. It is more about learning to share, take turns and to negotiate as to whose story will be played. They learn new things from each other and more importantly, it strengthens their relationship.
Just let your children explore because the sky's really the limit. Let them know we are always there to guide them."
Salikin Sidek with his youngest daughter Ajwa.
Fashion designer Salikin Sidek, father of three - Ariq Siddiq, nine, Asila Sofea, seven, and Ajwa Saliha, four:
"I don't restrict my children from choosing their toys but my wife, Anita Anuar, is careful about the toys they play with. My girls like to play with kitchen sets, Barbie dolls, teddy bears and board games while my son is just the opposite. He likes cars, hot wheels and action heroes like Spiderman and Ironman.
Although he does not play with his sister's toys, Ajwa, my youngest plays with both her sister's and brother's toys.
My wife is particular when they share toys and she would explain things to the kids. I do think that if boys play with their sister's toys, it will help to keep them in touch with their feminine side a bit. However, we must be careful and guide our boys when they are playing. As parents, we need to explain the roles of men and women. Society places importance on gender-specific toys to give children a sense of identity. Playing with toys does influence the way children think and behave to a certain extent.
I believe children need to mix with their own gender and playing with toys is one good way. I wouldn't allow my girls to play with toy guns because I think that is really a boy's thing. I do know of some young boys who play with dolls because they have many sisters. In this case, parents need to monitor their sons. It is better to allow boys to play openly than to secretly play with dolls. This way, parents can also guide them.
In my opinion boys and girls should stick to their own toys unless they are board games or educational toys. Parents have to be smart these days when choosing toys for children.
I grew up with many sisters and was exposed to their toys. I think I have a better understanding of women thanks to being around them. As a fashion designer, it has helped me become more aware of what women want. I can say one must have a strong will in anything they do. Some male designers may exude femininity but they are strong on the inside."